How to boost my SEO rankings – Relevance and Dynamic Content for My Homepage

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By: Brendan Fitzpatrick

Google

How to boost my SEO rankings – Relevance and Dynamic Content for My Homepage

Just to be clear, the content in this article is a subset of what you should follow in order to help your Search Engine Optimization rankings (SEO). We will publish other topics and perhaps at some point provide more of a ‘Table of Contents’ overview but for those who are specifically interested in SEO Relevance this article is for you.

Search Engines have evolved over the years and are constantly updating their algorithms to keep up with the times. There are currently about 200 variables that factor into how a Search Engine ranks a website but we’re going to focus on Relevance which is one of the most important variables in the equation.

Relevance is an indicator of how two things are alike or not alike. Search Engines succeed if they deliver search results that keep visitors coming back for more searches. To bring more visitors back, Search Engines give higher rankings to those sites with:

Up to date content
Search Engines are smart enough to know when your content has been updated so whether it’s publishing blogs, updating stale content, posting images or adding new content you need to continually keep your content fresh. After all, how relevant can you be if your content is a few years old? We know that staying relevant isn’t easy which is the basis of why we wrote this article. We will jump into some solutions further down.

Content related to the Search Parameters
Yes, Search Engines (SE) are also smart enough to know which sites contents are a best match for a given Search Phrase. Nowadays, SE’s are using more and more Artificial Intelligence (AI) to match Search Phrases to sites with relevant content. Ever type a typo into the search box of a Search Engine and they somehow know what you’re searching for as results appear even before you finish typing? The suggested solutions below will help you move up in Search Engine rankings.

Popularity
That’s right, SE’s know how popular your site is by counting the number of backlinks to your site. They also know how many Followers and Likes you have on other Social Media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc. so as important it is to keep your content up to date on your website, in many cases is just as important if not more important to have a Social Media accounts with regular content (ie. posts) as well.

Let’s cut to the chase, here are 3 ways to keep your website up to date:

1. Update it as you do today – in most cases this is very time consuming, tedious and not preferred which is probably why you’re reading this article. We listed this as an option so people appreciate option 3 below.

2. Pay someone to update it – in many cases this isn’t even possible or it can be very expensive which often times isn’t the preferred choice. Most hosting companies do offer Blogging capabilities which is one of the best ways to ensure fresh content for your site. If you don’t have a blog you should look into it and at least consider it. A blog can be used for any topic and is a great way to expose your site further to the world.

3. For this option we’re going to focus on your Homepage because the statistics say that this is the most indexed page on a site by far, but you don’t have to limit this option to your homepage – you can certainly apply the same concept to any of your pages. The option we’re talking about is an RSS feed. An RSS feed is an easy way to display Titles with links to content – whether its new articles that you post on your blog and you want to put those articles names in a streaming format on your homepage – OR – perhaps you want to put Related Content with links to other sites on your homepage it can all pretty much be automated.

We first recommend that you look into what RSS is and figure out if it applies to your own website. If it does then there are plenty of free RSS scripts out there that can easily be integrated with most sites. If an RSS feed doesn’t apply to your site for some reason then you should consider pulling in an external RSS feed an putting it on your homepage.

Let’s look at an example of how an RSS feed can increase visits and revisits to your site. If for example you had a website about Birthday Gifts, perhaps you didn’t even have much content (text) because you were really only selling products and not information or ideas. What if you placed an RSS feed for ‘Famous Peoples Birthdays today’ on your homepage. This way when a visitor is on your homepage they may glance over the Famous Peoples Birthdays today list and either share it with a friend or perhaps it simply makes them smile. Small experiences like this are sure to increase revisits to your site, in many cases people will link their blog to your site (ie. backlink) simple because you’re offering a cool feature or something that your competitors aren’t offering. Over time those revisits and backlinks will cross the threshold of the SEO algorithms and pay off 10 fold.

Summary
There is no formula that will guarantee anyone the first spot on any Search Engines Results Page (SERP) but good practice and implementing tips as mentioned above is sure to improve your rankings. We strongly suggest that if you don’t already have a Google/Webmaster account and if you don’t know the details of your current rankings that you open an Google/Webmaster account so that you can measure the impact of keeping your site up to date.

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How to SEO with results!

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By: Brendan Fitzpatrick

Google

The intention of this article is to give the reader a sense of what is required in order to be successful with Search Engine Optimization (SEO). To start, I will define SEO in layman’s terms – SEO is the process of coding your web site to a level that the Search engines or web crawlers can understand. What does this really mean? Read on…

The gist of this article is to let you know that SEO is not a one time thing that you can pay for and walk away from. Nowadays with Social Media the rules and guidelines of search engines are changing nearly on a daily basis. SEO is constant work, and it is hard. The top ‘performers’ in SEO live, eat, sleep and drink the topic of their web site offerings. If you’re not willing to live, eat, sleep and drink the topic of your choice then forget about being a leading web site in search engines in the industry of your choice.

I’ll split this conversation into 2 topics – the first being best practices when it comes to ‘coding’ your site, the somewhat static piece of the equation. The second being the social aspect of SEO or the dynamic piece of the equation. I will not deep dive into either area, again this article is to point you in the right direction.

As far as the static piece of the equation goes, good coding practices – you (or your web site designer) really need to follow the basics. Make sure that you have your META-TAGS configured properly and customized appropriately to the industry that you are in. Follow the basice STRICTLY. YOU really have you spend time on this, 99.99% of the time your designer is useless when it comes generating content (YES, your META-TAGS are content), they can code the information but YOU must tell them what to include. If you are unfamiliar with META-TAGS then you need to read up on them and make sure that they are accurate to your area of interest. Even more important, you MUST make sure that your content is relevant! If you are selling shoes, then you should have content on why your shoes are better than others, how to care for them, describe the various shoe types for different applications (ie. snow, running, walking, hiking etc.), if you do not – then your competitors will likely surpass your site by miles! The more content that you have with the highest relevance to educate your visitors will land you higher in the search engines. For the most part, you should spend ALOT of time on this area, but once done you should not have to spend much time unless your content changes frequently. Don’t forget about Description length, alt tags etc.

For the dynamic part of SEO – this is huge. More than ever, search engines are relying on the social existence of a web site, it’s authority (how many articles are published) and how many followers one has. To be at the top of the game you have to eat, live and breath the subject matter of your site. It’s not enough to simply post text on your social network accounts, you need to start thinking about enticing graphics that stand out above other sites. They say pinterest is the number one threat to Google in the future when it comes to searching for ideas (what’s that saying.. ‘a picture is worth 1,000 words?). When you perform a google image search, think of how many image results it returns and which ones you look at. If you’re like me, you scroll through dozens of images at a time and you stop on those that you catch in the corner of your eye. I’m starting to use Pinterst more than Google and that says alot! Relevant images are key!

You can have 10,000 postings on a ‘company facebook page’, or 20,000 tweets on twitter or 50 articles published on Google+ but if you have no followers then your social existence will be close to zero! You MUST publish content that is relevant that people will read and want to follow and share! Not every social network works the same way, people check facebook at certain times of the day, linked in at during other hours, google+ and twitter during other hours. You need to know when to publish content to which networks if you want to maximize your reader shares. This is where SEO has evolved and now requires a constant presence if you want your site to be at the top.

The most successful sites have great static SEO web sites and a great dynamic presence, think of your competitors are machines who constantly pump out articles with great images, tweets and stories and if you take a few hours off (much less days) then you will simply start falling behind in your search engine rankings.

As a side note, there is something to be said about niches, by definition you won’t have as much competition BUT you have to LOVE that niche and if you do then you will have higher potential then a non-niche subject or product.

The most important note, if you’re like me – a one man shop, you can’t do it alone but there are resources out there that you can take advantage of.. If you haven’t heard of these sites then you need to seriously look at them:

fiverr.com – cheap services, find cheap provides of graphic solutions, content writers and more

elance.com – relatively cheap services but VERY professional services

I suggest you build a network of providers and stick with the best that you can find. Don’t forget, these sites are ‘cheap’, most providers are looking for connections so they are willing to do some initial work at a cheap rate. If you like their services then you should pay them more – or what you feel they are worth or their is a good chance they won’t stick around for long.

Good Luck!

*feel free to contact me with any questions or comments

I bought a domain name, what do I do next?

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By: Brendan Fitzpatrick

Google

I just bought a domain name, what should I do with it next?

Excellent question! The answer really depends on what you want to do with your domain name. Do you want to develop it? Do you want to resell it? Do you want to see how much traffic it receives?

Regardless of what you want to do with it, you should immediately put up a splash page describing the uses for the site. It will usually take several weeks if not months to develop your site or even to find potential buyers. It cannot hurt to add basic text, a title and description to the html of your page. I won’t go into META TAGS but you should create them so the search engines crawl your site and index it so that people can find your site.

Once you put your splash page up you should join http://google.com/webmaster and verify your site and submit it to be crawled. For the purpose of this article I have purchased http://workanniversary.com to serve as an example. Although you won’t find this domain in your searches yet it will likely appear in the top 100 of google searches for ‘1st work anniversary‘, ‘5th anniversary’ and so on. With a little luck it will appear in the top 100 for ‘work anniversary’ and although not generating lot’s of traffic yet, it’s a good foundation to start vs. letting your domain sit idle.

You can host your domain for as little as $5/month and if you search hard enough you will find free hosting. Again, hosting is not the intent of this article but I will elaborate on options in my next blog.

The next best thing that you can do for your new domain is to blog about it, just as I’m doing with this article (don’t forget to link the content of the article back to your site). Creating links to your domain will build integrity with the domain and therefore increase your search rankings.

You can also hire someone from elance.com for $20 or less to create a 1 or 2 page article to host on your domain, another excellent way to build integrity for your domain. If you are hardcore you can also promote your site via social networks such as twitter, google+, instagram, facebook etc. If you have an impulse to buy a domain then following these simple steps may bring it to the next level.

I want to buy a domain name that someone already owns, can I do that?

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Yes! Not only can you buy a domain name that already exists but you can make good money by purchasing desirable domain names and reselling them at a premium price.

I personally will not pay for services that negotiate with sellers on your behalf as I feel their loyalty is either with the seller or with the higher prices. You’ll typically see these services advertised to sellers based on maximizing their profits showing a long list of domain names that have sold for 10’s of thousands of dollars. Many of these services are commission based with incentives towards maximum profit.

There are several ways to find the contact information of a domain name owner, I highly suggest that you email them vs. calling them directly. In many cases the contact phone number goes nowhere but many owners are not interested in selling their domain names so a phone call may agitate them as they’ll see it as spam. I also don’t recommend using back ordering services from companies such as godaddy.com, it’s a complete ripoff in my mind. They collect a nominal fee from unlimited people and you may have to wait years for the domain name to expire and you have to hope that they don’t renew the name or sell it on their own.

Domain name owner information if public information and can easily be found on any free ‘Whois‘ service, Network Solutions offers a Whois service here. You will likely find several email addresses when you look up the domain name that you are interested in, chose the one that looks most appropriate or include them all if necessary and ask them politely in an email if the domain name is for sale. Another simple way to find contact information is to try go to to the Domain Name in a browser, if they have a developed web site they will usually have a contact or email link visible somewhere on the site, usually near the top or bottom of the page.

If the owner expresses interest then you can go from there but asking more information can easily turn a domain name owner off. The one piece of advise I will offer is to try to use an email address that is not associated with anything related to the domain name of interest, in many cases the seller will google your name and email address and if they think that you are affiliated with a company that needs this domain name they may increase their minimum value many times over. One way to keep sellers in line (at least some) is a reality check, ask them for usage reports for the past 24 months which show how many unique visitors come to the site as well as where they are coming from. If they don’t know how many unique visitors the site has (and in many cases it will be close to zero) they will realize that the domain may only have limited value to a limited audience which may convince them to sell to you.

I HIGHLY RECOMMEND that you use an escrow service when buying a domain name. Godaddy.com offers escrow services for transactions up to $3,000 and you can use Escrow.com for higher transactions.

I have bought and sold a few domain names, if you find this article helpful please share it. If this article wasn’t helpful or clear then please let me know if you have any questions and I will try to clarify these steps.

How do I know if I should use my Personal Information on a web site?

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By Brendan Fitzpatrick

Google

Browsing the internet is like walking the streets of a big city, generally speaking you should be safe on the main streets during normal hours.. but walk down the wrong side street or looking for a deal that is too good to be true is almost certain to get you into trouble fast.

Stick to well known sites such as google.com, yahoo.com, amazon.com and listen to your friends and family for ideas of where to go on the internet. Never click on links from one site to another or even from your email as it is very easy for someone to trick you into thinking you are on a different site. Be careful of long URL’s, especially the kind where you can’t see the web site address of the site you are on – this should send up red flags immediately.

If you pay your bills online then always type the URL in your browser and navigate to the login and billing section to configure your account. Many spam emails (emails that pretend to be one site but try to get you to a spoofed site to get your information) are sent on a daily basis, do not trust emails.. ever!

When you are on a trusted site, whether it be a well known site or one that a friend recommended – always check to see if your browser address indicates http:// or https:// before logging in or putting in your personal information such as credit card information. If it does not say https:// (for secure connection) then do not use that site for transactions.

You don’t want to perform 100% of your buying and paying bills online – ask yourself, “do I have to buy this or pay this online?”.  Ask yourself what you would do if you didn’t have Internet access and consider that alternative.

Always look for the ‘lock’ either to the left of the URL or bottom of your browser, if it is not green or has an ‘X’ through it then stop! Do not submit your personal information on that page. Get used to clicking on the lock to learn more about Internet Security in general.

It’s great the way the Internet has made lives easier but keep in mind there are alot of security issues with almost every web site, there are new vulnerabilities that come out on a daily basis – most big companies will have a strong defense process (commonly known as Vulnerability Threat Management or VTM process) but threats are commonly misdiagnosed and sometimes fixed too late. Be conscious that hackers are often times ahead of Industry Security measures and ask yourself do I really need to post my personal information on this site before doing so blindly.

What is the Internet, simplified?

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By Brendan Fitzpatrick

Google

To simplify the discussion for non-technical people I won’t attempt to dig into such topics as networking, switching, DNS etc. Simplified, the Internet is a very big network of devices across the globe with millions of computers and servers connected by network devices. Network devices route traffic to it’s proper destination upon request for various types of communication protocols (ie. video streaming, file transfer, web content etc.).

There are various forms of communication protocols which I’ll briefly touch upon here. The most common protocol is HTTP (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol) and HTTPS (Hyper Text Transer Protocol Secure) which is what a browser communicates with to a server (aka web server) – when you go to a web page in a browser the URL will start with http:// for public connections or https:// for secure connections, the ‘s’ in https:// indicating if the connection is secure or not. Think of a protocol as a language (set of requests and responses) that is used between 2 devices to communicate. Here are some other protocols commonly used over the internet but are lower level protocols (often used behind the scene of a process not obvious to the end user compared to HTTP/S)

FTP – file transfer protocol (for transferring files)
SFTP – secure file transfer protocol (for transferring files over encrypted communications)
SNMP – simple network mail protocol (for email)
UDP
TCP

Question: I know that the internet is a large black box where lots of people can do lot’s of things but how does it really work in simple terms?
Answer: If you think of the Internet as similar to a complicated phone system (many devices connected via wires, fiber optic or wireless and network switches), just like your phone number – your PC has a unique identification called your IP Address (Internet Protocol Address). Every device on the Internet including URL’s (such as mywebsite.com) has a unique IP Address associated with it, this is how the network devices know to connect your computer to where it wants to go.

A URL (Uniform Resource Locator) is a virtual name (domain name) assigned to an IP Address to make it easier for users to remember what to type in their browser.. isn’t it much easier to remember to go to http://google.com than it is to go to http://74.125.226.233? Google has 1000’s of servers each having a unique IP Address. Sometimes their servers (such as IP Address 74.125.226.233) will be taken out of service for maintenance so by using a URL you never need to worry if they take a server down, the URL translation is smart enough to know which IP Address on the Internet you want to go to (Lookup DNS for more information). It’s like having a phone number to an individual vs. to a 24×7 helpdesk with dozens of people waiting to pick up the phone. You are virtually guaranteed to have someone pick up the hotline number compared to hoping that someone is near their phone to pick up.

Hopefully I haven’t confused you yet. Now that you have a basic understanding of the basic concepts of how computers communicate with each other, the rest is simply information scattered across all the computers on the internet that can now be shared rather easily via the protocols already mentioned. For example, a file from a remote computer can be downloaded to your machine using the FTP protocol, all you need is a user ID and password that is setup on that remote computer. A browser is nothing more than a file transfer implementation but instead of downloading a file to your computer using FTP it simply GETS a file using the HTTP protocol and displays the file contents in your browser while reformatting it using the HTML tags within that file. Many websites are public so that you don’t need a user ID and password to access their files (ie. their homepage).

 

What is a computer network, in laymen terms?

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By Brendan Fitzpatrick

Google

A network is 2 or more computers linked together. The fastest links (connections) are physical connections made via wire or fiber optics most commonly implemented for Desktops used in a workstation environment. Wireless technology (WiFi) is often preferred for laptops. There are other technologies used for connecting systems together such as 4G, bluetooth and others but these are more prevalent for cell phone networks.